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UMD Students, Leadership Lay Out Needs to Legislators Ahead of Session

Taylor Holt
Updated: December 06, 2018 11:14 PM

Thursday, UMD students and leadership laid out the projects they will be asking the Legislature to fund in the upcoming session. They discussed their needs with three Duluth Legislators at the University's second annual "Legislative Breakfast."  

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The event is an opportunity for Duluth lawmakers to hear firsthand the priorities of the university and what they'll be asking legislators to go to bat for.

State Senator Erik Simonson, and State Representatives Jennifer Schultz and Liz Olson were on hand to hear the requests. This year, school officials say they have a budget request for $87 million, that will go towards things like competitive compensation and improving core facilities, research and technology infrastructure. They also have three bonding requests that includes $200 million for HEAPER or Higher Education Asset Preservation and Replacement, so renovating existing facilities. 

One request University officials said didn't get funded last year was renovations to the A.B. Anderson Hall building on campus, so they are also asking for $4.3 million for upgrades there, which students say it's in dire need of.

"I think if we can do that preventative maintenance to extend the life on some of that old infrastructure (it would be good.) We have had classes canceled sometimes because it's too hot in the fall or because there's a leak and that's not okay," said UMD Senior Mike Kenyanya.

The legislators also gave an update to the University about what they are working on accomplishing ahead of the legislative session and also expressed they believe the upcoming session will be a good one for the University. Thursday afternoon, the state's budget forecast was released showing a $1.5 billion dollar surplus for the next two-year budget period. Simonson says they hope that will help with additional investments to higher education especially at UMD.

"We're hearing some rumblings that there is some inequities in funding. We also have a new administrator coming in at the main U level this year too, so this is an opportunity for us to forge some new relationships and maybe start to fix some of those inequities," said Simonson.

University staff say they are thankful they were able to get some big projects like their Chemistry Building funded last year and they're hoping for the same this year. 

Gov.-elect Tim Walz is due to release his budget outline by February 19th. 

Credits

Taylor Holt

Copyright 2018 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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